Yesterday, the EU Commission, the European Parliament and the Council negotiated on a stronger Transparency Register for lobbyists without a clear result. Politico reports that Frans Timmermans, Commission’s Vice-President, continues to insist on a meeting-ban with not registered lobbyists for decision-makers from all EU-institutions. Decision-makers in the European Parliament and the Council of the Member States should also accept this rule for themselves, says Timmermans. Since 2014, the EU Commission obliges Commissioners, their direct staff and Directors-General to meet only with registered lobbyists and to list these meetings publicly. However, most Commission staff who draft new EU laws or negotiate trade agreements and have lobbying contacts are not yet affected by these rules. Sylvie Guillaume (French Social Democrat), together with Danuta Hübner (Polish Christian Democrat), Parliament’s negotiator, commented on Timmermans‘ position as disrespectful. It would be a „risky bet“ if Timmermans hoped for more concessions from the next parliament after the European elections. On 31 January, the European Parliament adopted binding lobby transparency rules for the first time. Members of the European Parliament who write EU laws must publicly list their meetings with lobbyists. The rule was originally proposed by the Greens and is based on the parliamentary resolution drafted by Sven Giegold on transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions of 2017. The European Parliament can approve a new agreement among the institutions until 17 April. Otherwise, the new Parliament would have to develop a new negotiating position after the European elections.
Sven Giegold, the European Parliament‘s rapporteur for transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions, comments:
„A failure of the negotiations between the EU institutions for a stronger Transparency Register shortly before the European elections would be a missed opportunity for the European democracy. It is laudable how the EU Commission has led the way with binding lobby transparency for its highest decision-making ranks. But, it is necessary that all Commission staff drafting EU laws and negotiating trade agreements follow lobby transparency rules.
The European Parliament’s big step for binding lobby transparency should be followed by a next step by the Commission. Ending the talks between the institutions before the elections without a result would send a damaging signal of a lacking ability to compromise. The Social Democratic negotiators on both sides, the European leading candidate Frans Timmermans and Parliament‘s Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume should make a new attempt as soon as possible.
A compromise between Commission and Parliament helps to put pressure on the Council of Member States. The Council of Member States remains the only EU institution without any binding lobbying transparency. The Permanent Representation of Finland is the first to pro-active publish lobby meetings online. The EU Representations of the Netherlands and Romania have published lobby meetings for all staff of the Permanent Representation at the request of the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory. Citizens in all other Member States deserve the same transparency on what lobbyists the representatives of their governments in Brussels meet with“.
On the decision of the European Parliament of 31 January: https://sven-giegold.de/success-for-lobby-transparency/
Lobby transparency of the Finnish Permanent Representation: https://sven-giegold.de/finnish-embassy-to-the-eu-publishes-lobby-meetings/